Out Skerries; the eastern islets
This month we’ll take you on a ferry trip to the small group of isolated islands off the east coast of Out Skerries.
To get there you’ll need to take a 90 minute ferry from Vidlin with limited day returns available on the timetable, though there are more runs if you wish to go via Laxo and Whalsay.
It is possible to get both self-catering accommodation and B&B on Skerries, though both are limited. There are also two small shops on the isles, one near the ferry terminal and one on the west isle.
There are 15km/9miles core paths on Skerries which circumnavigate the coast of the two inhabited isles of Housay and Bruray.
A PDF of the paths available to download and print here.
The ferry will normally bring you in via the north-east mouth to the calm of the harbour, disembarking on the southern tip of Bruray.
It can be quite a dramatic entry as you come in from the open sea past the old Stevenson Lighthouse.
If you walk around Bruray you’ll notice the islands airfield which see little use now, but more surprisingly you’ll see a gutter that circles Bruray Ward (a lofty 53m). This collects water from the hill and leads it into the island’s reservoir, though it is now supplemented by water from a borehole.
Housay is the larger and more rugged of the two inhabited isles. It’s worth heading up to the old coast guard watch hut which is clearly visible on the skyline to the south of the harbour.
Sadly the hut is now very dilapidated, but the views of the isles from there are fantastic and it gives a good vantage point to plan where you might like to visit.
The walk out to Mio Ness in the south-west is quite dramatic, but be mindful of nesting birds in the summer months. The terns will soon make you aware if you’ve strayed into their territory.
Mio Ness is also an area that people hid out to avoid the press gangs of the past and it had a brief visit from a walrus the other year!
The West Voe of Housay on the west of the isle housed a lot of the now defunct Skerries aquaculture activity and is another scenic area of low-lying rocky coast where you might see seals or otters on your walk.
Out Skerries is a great place to explore. The walking isn’t too challenging, it’s generally quiet with anyone you meet being welcoming, and it’s a popular place for birding in the season too.
If you do go there please make sure to tag us at #shetlandoutdoors and share your experiences.